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It’s been a “Bonza” week for aviation Down Under.
If you’re wondering what that means, it’s Aussie slang for “excellent” or “first-rate.”
And it’s also the name of a brand-new Australian airline, which happens to be the country’s only independent, low-cost carrier that recently inaugurated passenger service from the popular coastal city of Sunshine Coast (MCY).
Let’s take a look at all the details!
Bonza is a quintessentially Aussie start-up planning to take the Australian domestic aviation market by storm.
“What our first customers will experience onboard is a fresh approach to flying where we keep the bar high on quality, and our costs low,” said Tim Jordan, CEO at Bonza.
The airline has chosen the popular tourist destination of Sunshine Coast (MCY) as its main base from where it will operate flights across the states of New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria to start. Its inaugural flight launched on January 31, 2023, to Whitsunday Coast (PPP).
The airline’s onboard menu is an all-Aussie affair from which passengers can order via an app.
True to the low-cost airline business model, Bonza will operate only a single aircraft type — the Boeing 737 MAX — of which it now has 3.
Sticking with the Aussie theme, and with a bit of help from the Australian public, Bonza’s first 3 aircraft were named Bazza, Shazza, and Sheila.
Bonza’s website currently has very little information about its routes and destinations.
However, the app currently sites Albury (ABX), Avalon (AVV), Cairns (CNS), Coffs Harbour (CFS), Mackay (MKY), Mildura (MQL), Newcastle (NTL), Port Macquarie (PQQ), Rockhampton (ROK), Sunshine Coast (MCY), Townsville (TSV), and Whitsunday Coast (PPP) as destinations served.
“Whether you are snorkeling the Whitsunday Islands or grabbing a cold one in the craft beer capital of Australia – the Sunshine Coast – we are humbled to take you there,” said Jordan.
The airline says Gladstone (GLT), Melbourne (MEL), Tamworth (TMW), and Toowoomba Wellcamp (WTB) will be coming soon to its route map.
From the list of destinations above, it’s likely that you might only have heard of more well-known cities like Cairns and Melbourne. In this respect, Bonza’s mission to connect more regional airports across the country checks out.
In fact, according to the airline’s website, 93% of Bonza’s 27 routes are served by no other airline.
Hot Tip: Planning a trip to Australia? Check out all the best ways to fly there using points and miles.
Booking a Bonza Flight
Intrigued to see how Bonza’s app-based booking system works, we put it to the test.
We took a look at the booking process for the carrier’s second-longest flight between the rural city of Mildura in western Victoria to Bonza’s base at Sunshine Coast.
Before Bonza’s nonstop 2hr 25min flight launches, Milduran’s only other option is a 6- to 7-hour journey via Melbourne or Sydney (SYD) with Qantas for a cool $516.
Thanks to Bonza’s new $112 round-trip fare, you can now fly nonstop between the 2 cities and save over $400! That is, of course, if you can travel with just an 8-kilogram bag (~18 pounds) and are OK with being assigned a seat at random.
You’ll also have the option to pick a seat and pay for a checked bag while booking, and you’ll receive a 10% discount for doing so.
Now let’s take a look at what you can expect to pay for seats and baggage.
As is usually the case, you’ll pay more for a preferred seat. Interestingly, the cost of seat 1A will vary depending on the length of the flight.
For the round-trip flight between Mildura and Sunshine Coast, we picked the most expensive seats — 1A and 1F — for $11 per segment, bringing the total for this flight to $134.
The cheapest seats cost just $3. And, as we mentioned above, you can opt out of seat selection and will be assigned a seat at random upon check-in.
Checked Bag Fees
Here are the prices for the airline’s shortest flight between Sunshine Coast and Coffs Harbour compared to its second-longest flight between Sunshine Coast and Mildura.
Sunshine Coast to Coffs Harbour:
- 15-kilogram bag (~33 pounds): $7
- 23-kilogram bag (~51 pounds): $16
- 28-kilogram bag (~62 pounds): $19
- 32-kilogram bag (~71 pounds): $22.50
Sunshine Coast to Mildura:
- 15-kilogram bag (~33 pounds): $15
- 23-kilogram bag (~51 pounds): $19
- 28-kilogram bag (~62 pounds): $22.50
- 32-kilogram bag (~71 pounds): $26
Let’s say you wanted to take an average-sized suitcase of 23 kilograms (about 51 pounds). That would cost you $38 for the round-trip flight ($19 each way).
The total cost for the Bonza flight with preferred seat selection and 23 kilograms of checked luggage each way now comes to $172 — that’s $344 cheaper than the cheapest equivalent with Qantas.
A final note on the booking process: I loved that passengers are given the option to let the airline know about any accessibility requirements through the app at the time of booking.
It seems like Australia’s start-up low-cost airline has the right formula: providing nonstop services to underserved regional destinations for far less cash than the indirect options with the competition. It all sounds pretty “bonza” to us.”
Featured Image Credit: Bonza
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